Yeongdo, Korea 1911. A club-footed, cleft-lipped man marries a fifteen-year-old girl. The couple have one child, their beloved daughter Sunja. When Sunja falls pregnant by a married yakuza, the family face ruin. But then a Christian minister offers a chance of salvation: a new life in Japan as his wife. Following a man she barely knows to a hostile country where she has no friends and no home, Sunja's salvation is just the beginning of her story.
About the Author
Min Jin Lee is a Korean-American author and journalist. Born in Seoul, her family moved to America when she was seven. She worked as a lawyer before deciding to write full time. Her second novel, Pachinko , is also published by Head of Zeus.
'Stunning ... Pachinko is about outsiders, minorities and the politically disenfranchised. But it is so much more besides. Each time the novel seems to find its locus - Japan's colonization of Korea, World War II as experienced in East Asia, Christianity, family, love, the changing role of women - it becomes something else. It becomes even more than it was' New York Times.
'A deep, broad, addictive history of a Korean family in Japan enduring and prospering through the 20th century' David Mitchell, Guardian.
'Luminous ... a powerful meditation on what immigrants sacrifice to achieve a home in the world' Junot Diaz.
'A long novel, but it never feels it - Min Jin Lee's storytelling is effortless' Stylist, Pick of the best new books for 2017.
'Gripping ... a stunning achievement, full of heart, full of grace, full of truth' Erica Wagner.
'The work of a writer in complete control of her characters and her story and with an intense awareness of the importance of her heritage ... Told with such flair and linguistic dexterity that I found myself unable to put it down. Every year, there are a few standout novels that survive long past the hype has died down and the hyperbolic compliments from friends scattered across the dust jacket have been forgotten. Pachinko, a masterpiece of empathy, integrity and familial loyalty, will be one of those novels' John Boyne, Irish Times.
'We never feel history being spoon-fed to us: it is wholly absorbed into character and story, which is no mean feat for a novel covering almost a century of history' Financial Times.
'An epic, multi-generational saga' Mail on Sunday, Best of 2017.
'A great book, a passionate story, a novel of magisterial sweep. It's also fiendishly readable - the real deal. An instant classic, a quick page-turner, and probably the best book of the year' Darin Strauss, New York Times-bestselling author of Chang and Eng.
'A long, complex book, it wears its research lightly, and is a page-turner. You can sense the author's love and understanding for all the characters, the good and the flawed' Irish Examiner.
'Remarkable ... A striking introduction to lives, to a world, [the reader] may never have seen, or even thought to look at. In our increasingly fractured and divisive times, there can be no higher purpose for literature: all in the pages of a book that, once you've started, you'll simply be unable to put down' Harper's Bazaar.
'Elegant and soulful, both intimate and sweeping. This story of several generations of one Korean family in Japan is the story of every family whose parents sacrificed for their children, every family whose children were unable to recognize the cost, but it's also the story of a specific cultural struggle in a riveting time and place. Min Jin Lee has written a big, beautiful book filled with characters I rooted for and cared about and remembered after I'd read the final page' Kate Christensen, award-winning author of The Great Man and Blue Plate Special.
'Both for those who love Korea, as well as for those who know no more than Hyundai, Samsung and kimchi, this extraordinary book will prove a revelation of joy and heartbreak. I could not stop turning the pages, and wished this most poignant of sagas would never end. Min Jin Lee displays a tenderness and wisdom ideally matched to an unforgettable tale that she relates just perfectly' Simon Winchester, author of Korea: A Walk Through the Land of Miracles.
'A compassionate, clear gaze at the chaotic landscape of life itself. In this haunting epic tale, no one story seems too minor to be briefly illuminated. Lee suggests that behind the facades of wildly different people lie countless private desires, hopes and miseries, if we have the patience and compassion to look and listen' New York Times Book Review.
'Love, luck, and talent combine with cruelty and random misfortune in a deeply compelling story, with the troubles of ethnic Koreans living in Japan never far from view. An old-fashioned epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth' Kirkus.
'[A] beautifully crafted story of love, loss determination, luck, and perseverance ... Lee's skilful development of her characters and story lines will draw readers into the work. Those who enjoy historical fiction with strong characterisations will not be disappointed as they ride along on the emotional journeys offered in the author's latest page-turner' Library Journal.
'An exquisite, haunting epic ... Lee's profound novel of losses and gains explored through the social and cultural implications of pachinko-parlor owners and users is shaped by impeccable research, meticulous plotting, and empathic perception' Booklist Starred Review.
'Wonderful, in scope, scale and the beauty of storytelling' Nicola Sturgeon.
'A rich, moving novel about exile, identity and the determination to endure' Sunday Times.
'A sweeping, engrossing family saga ... a poignantly told tale. Gracefully written and dotted with memorable images, evocative of the pace and time, it's a page-turning panorama of one family's path through suffering to prosperity in 20th-century Japan' Literary Review.